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Piers Gaveston

Piers Gaveston (c1284 - 19 June,1312) was the favourite of King Edward II of England.

A Gascon by birth, Piers was the son of Sir Arnaul de Gabaston, a soldier in service to King Edward I of England. As a boy he entered the royal household, where he became a companion of Prince Edward in 1300. Prince Edward was delighted with the bold and witty Gaveston, and gave him many honors and gifts. This did not sit well with the king, who did not approve of his son's choice of such a low-born companion. When Prince Edward asked to bestow Ponthieu upon Gaveston, the king flew into a rage. "You wretched son of a whore!" cried King Edward. "Do you want to give away lands now? You who have never gained any? As God lives, if not for fear of breaking up the kingdom, I would never let you enjoy your inheritance!" Then he grasped Prince Edward by the hair, flung him to the floor, and kicked him until he was exhausted.

King Edward then banished Gaveston, with the intention of punishing his son more than Gaveston. He forced Prince Edward and Piers to swear an oath never to see one another again without his permission. Then Piers set sail for France, loaded down with many rich gifts from the prince. But as soon as his father died in July 1307, the new king recalled his "Brother Perrot" and endowed him with the county of Cornwall.

Gaveston was married to Margaret de Clare, a granddaughter of King Edward I and was created Earl of Cornwall by the king. He was made guardian of the realm when Edward had to leave the country in 1308 to marry Isabella of France. Gaveston was unpopular with the new queen as well as with the nobles, and the two men, who were approximately the same age, are believed to have had a homosexual relationship.

Following his bungling of the coronation arrangements, Gaveston was sent away to Ireland as regent. He returned within the year, and made more enemies, the most powerful of whom was Thomas, Earl of Lancaster, a cousin of the king, whom Gaveston defeated in a tournament. Lancaster led opposition to Edward, forcing him to send Gaveston into exile yet again. When he had the temerity to return, he was captured and executed by his rivals. He would shortly be replaced in the king's affections by Hugh le Despenser.


  • Vita Edwardi Secundi
  • Walter of Guisborough
  • Johnstone, Hilda. Edward of Caernavon, 1946

Last updated: 08-30-2005 16:36:45
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